BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) — As the United States military draws
up long-term plans to leave Iraq, top officers are looking to the
U.S. intervention in Bosnia’s civil war as a model for an
American exit strategy here.

The United States will keep combat teams in Iraq for the next
few years, pulling them gradually out of cities into the
countryside, and then perhaps into Kuwait and other countries.
Eventually it will leave entirely, said Maj. Gen. Charles H.
Swannack, commander of the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne
Division.

A slower version of this pullout plan is under way in Bosnia,
with peacekeeping forces dwindling from 60,000 in 1995 to about
12,000 now.

“You have the 82nd Airborne Division that can jump in here
to reinforce regional forces, or you have Marine offshore forces
that can come in here and reinforce for a while,” Swannack
said in an interview with The Associated Press. “That’s
what we have in Bosnia.”

The military’s two-year disengagement plan could be
upended by any number of events in Iraq. Civil war between its
ethnic and religious groups might prolong the occupation, or it
could be shortened by the election of an Iraqi government that
orders the Americans out, said Anthony Cordesman, a military
analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in
Washington.

“The timing, if Iraq transitions peacefully to its own
sovereignty, is possible,” Cordesman said. “But
that’s not a promise that any of this is going to
happen.”

Two rebel attacks in Fallujah this week cast doubts on the
pullout plan, which depends on Iraqi security forces being able to
defeat such assaults. On Saturday, dozens of guerrillas routed
pro-U.S. Iraqi forces inside their own compounds, freeing prisoners
and sparking a gunbattle that killed 23 people.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.